Monday, October 28, 2013

stewed lentils with yogurt and cucumber


Woke up this morning to the most beautiful gray sky and evidence of an early morning rain. These are the transitional So Cal mornings I live for- when the heat of our late late summer is on it's way out and fall/winter (or our version of it) is on it's way in.

So, I present this dish as also a nice transitional meal: warm spiced lentils (cozy and comforting) with a cooling topping of cucumber and greek yogurt (bright and sharp). It is a perfect marriage of contrasting flavors and textures but still all at once a great fall meal. Plus, it all comes together quickly for a weeknight supper.

This recipe is from the Martha Stewart cookbook "Meatless".

stewed lentils with yogurt and cucumber

stewed lentils:
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups dried red lentils, picked over and rinsed
5 cups chicken stock or water
coarse salt

cucumber salsa-ish topping:
2 scallions, sliced on bias
1 cup diced english cucumber
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon white vinegar
coarse salt

for serving:
plain greek yogurt
basmati rice

1) For the lentils: Heat a medium sized dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil and once it is hot, add onion and cook, until just starting to turn translucent, about 4 minutes. Then add garlic and ginger and cook 2 more minutes. Stir in turmeric and cumin and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. At this point you'll have a wonderful gingery garlic fragrance wafting in the kitchen. Be sure to watch the heat so that the garlic doesn't scorch.

2) Add the 5 cups chicken stock (or water) and add it slowly, stirring the whole time to scrap up the bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the lentils, bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a nice simmer and partially cover. Cook until the lentils are tender and mixture thickens up (about 15-20 minutes). Once mixture is cooked, taste, and add salt if needed.

3) While the lentils simmer away, start work on the salsa. Scrub the english cucumber and, if you prefer, remove the peel. (I actually like the skin on for english cucumbers. Gives it a bit more of a snap). You're welcome to use a regular cucumber, but would recommend peeling and de-seeding. To the cucumber, add the scallions, cilantro, and vinegar. Season with salt and give it a big stir.

4) To serve, scoop a little rice into each bowl and top with a generous ladle of lentils. Top with a dollop of yogurt and helping of the cucumber salsa-ish topping. Enjoy!

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